They’ll tell you “Mountaineers are always free” in West Virginia. You’ll know its true after a hike through Blackwater Falls State Park.

Located in an unassuming small town called Davis, the sweeping hills and dozens of waterfalls will take you back to a much simpler time. It’s a place that makes you want to put your phone away for a while so you can take it all in, uninterrupted.

And, yes, the water really is black.

Blackwater Falls | Photo Credit: Brook Ward

The secret of the water

Have you ever noticed a darker tinge to fresh water in the Northeast? In an area where hemlocks and spruces are the norm, West Virginia water really does have a darker hue — it’s not just your eyes fooling you! The leaves and needles create a tannic acid build up in the water, turning it a noticeably darker shade than many other fresh water streams and rivers across the U.S.

Elakala Falls | Photo Credit: Frank Kovalchek

Make a day of it

There are technically three separate waterfalls in the state park. The 60-foot (that’s five stories high!) Blackwater is certainly the most talked about, but Elakala Falls and Pendleton Falls are crowd pleasers too. Your best bet is to get there early, grab a trail map, and spend the day hiking, picnicking and adventuring through the area. Perfect for a year-round trip, if you don’t mind the brisk West Virginia weather (and want to avoid the crowds), visit the park in late fall when the leaves are popping with color.

Photo Credit: Dpbirds

Find the perfect camping spot

Blackwater Falls is one of the most photographed sights in all of West Virginia. With that in mind, opt for a camping trip so you have any excuse to check out the breathtaking falls, gorge, and canyon in the early morning hours and again just before sunset for the best lighting and the lightest crowds. Camping outdoors not your thing? Catch nature from the comforts of your own room at one of the park’s cabins or lodge rentals. In either case, you’ll be in a position for prime viewing of the West Virginia wildlife and gorgeous hilly countryside.